Where has the last 12 weeks gone? From pre-planning and un-boxing new Nexus 7’s, to starting the year off and hoping for the best, here we are headed into November! My original plan was to blog about our adventures each week. (Insert belly laughs here!) Clearly my estimation of “free time” was off just a bit! So here we are in the second nine weeks, and I have committed to documenting the journey, so I guess it might have to be just a grading period at a time. So here we go… The first 9 weeks of Tab Lab!
Week 1: Tablet 101 & Paint App – (Communication ) I probably didn’t consider how different it would be to teach a 1:1 tablet lab from a 1:1 Chromebook or PC lab. Tablets in 2nd grade were not new, yet the structure of a class sure was. We role played the right and wrong ways to handle tablets, how we carried them, and what they needed to do once they got them. (Upside down in those laps!) We have a saying… when it is time to start we say “Flip Up, Wake Up, Swipe Up, Find Your App.) Now the first few times we also made them ‘put their apps on their heads’. This helped us to see they were in the right place and simply meant they raised tablets up for us to visually sweep the room quickly for a check of each tablet status. As for the instruction, we asked a series of 3-5 questions, and asked students to illustrate the answers. It was fun watching them illustrate ideas, and enjoy sharing them with others. Computer screens and wired set ups keep us from truly sharing our work with the group sometimes, so this was a nice welcome change!
Week 2: Georgia Symbols Using Pic Collage – (Research and Information Fluency) In an effort to tie in some instructional connection, we helped our 2nd grade teachers by introducing some Georgia State Symbols through images with Pic Collage. We brainstormed search ideas (which I HIGHLY recommend due to content available on that app) and had students type or use voice -to- text those symbols into the search. They learned a lot, and so did we. As a WV girl, I didn’t know much about Georgia, so it was a learning win for us all!
Week 3: Comic Creator – (Creativity) I always tend to lean toward ELA based learning practices, so this was a great way to help students spend more time on characters, settings, and sequence of a story. We talked about time order words, and using images to tell a story. They loved all the possible character and setting options, and it was so fun watching them create their own comic based stories!
Week 4: The Foos – (Critical Thinking) Why wait until December to work with students on coding? This will be something we do every 9 weeks, and each time we will use a different app to facilitate the practice. I love that we have so many options to make coding a regular instructional plan for the Tablet Lab!
Week 5: Cat Physics – This is what we call in Tab Lab as “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” lesson planning! I won the lottery on this one. The 2nd graders were in love. So many of them went home and asked their parents to download the app too! Cat Physics was so much trial and error. It was angles, estimation, problem solving and planning. What was additionally great about this app was the discussion we heard from students. Each level increased in complexity, and watching 7 and 8 year-olds talk though strategies together, ask each other for help, and see them celebrate with each passing level, simply made me the happiest little teacher I could be!
Week 6: Lego Creator Island (Critical Thinking) What fun we had creating our own little islands with this app! We collected gold lego bricks, turned them into great little products, and found out the hard way that if you don’t keep that bunny busy he might get into some trouble! He he… Sorry, to know what that means you are going to have to try this fun app out with your kids! The bunny can help you though… Hint… He can dig up a few extra lego bricks for you if you want him too! Oh the fun learning we do! Again, if you want to know the real learning, you really have to hear it for yourself. By week six they have mastered the collaboration standard and rarely ever come for teacher help now. They try something, but know when to ask for help, and know their classmates will give them that help! #TeacherWin
Week 8: Sprinkle and Sprinkle Island (Critical Thinking) – We needed to put out fires, and do it fast. We had to conserve our water, look at ways to use the water with regards to force and motion, and so much more. It was a great way to wrap up the grading period, and as a collective decision, we decided week 9 of every grading period would be a free choice to go back and work on any of the above mentioned apps! I think I can say that Cat Physics won out as crowd favorite, but Lego Creator Island and Pic Collage were not far behind! So much learning happened for all of us in the first 9 weeks of Tab Lab!
Lastly, let me say it takes a village! I can’t say enough how much my partner in crime Mrs. Bates has made this a success. She is amazing in every way, and not only do the kids love learning with her, she pushes me to think even deeper about what I plan so that I can in turn help her understand how to instructionally communicate it to kids! Having someone like her to co-teach with is a win in my book every day! Thank you Mrs. Bates!!